AN OLD RAF site which has potential as land for 4,850 homes could be better suited as a prison site.

The site in Wethersfield, which was built for the RAF in 1942, is used by the Ministry of Defence as a training site for police and fire services.

It is one of 10 sites expected to provide land for about 7,000 new homes to contribute to the government’s target of 160,000 by 2020.

It has the potential to provide land for up to 4,850 homes, which will help generate £140 million for defence spending.

The move, however, may not be suitable for housing, Braintree Council leader Graham Butland has said.

The Ministry of Defence has not submitted the site as part of Braintree Council’s Local Plan, which will be published in June.

Mr Butland suggested the site, which was released by the Ministry of Defence to the Homes and Communities Agency, could instead be suitable for a prison.

He said: “We aren’t dealing with any more sites not included in the Call for Sites at this stage.

“We shall consider the site on its merits if they decide to submit it after public consultation, but it is an isolated site that would require a huge amount of infrastructure to make it sustainable.

“It could be considered a site for a prison, which would bring jobs.

“Only a small part of the site is used and it’s not being utilised to its full potential.”

Residents of Finchingfield, where part of the site covers, thought anything other than industrial use could potentially ruin the village.

Barry Gilby, of the Finchingfield Bridge Preservation group, said: “Does anybody want all those homes next door to them?

“The extra infrastructure needed in the village will potentially destroy it, so could a prison.

“It’s always been a possibility the Wethersfield site would close and be used for housing but from a local point of view it could potentially be disastrous for the village.

“If they can find businesses and industries to put in there it would be better.”

Alan Bowers, vice Chairman of Wethersfield Parish Council, said more infrastructure would be needed to support the housing, but it could be a good site.

He said: “It’s surprising they have considered this site as they do a lot of training up there and a lot of people who live nearby work there.

“It’s definitely a lot of houses but it may be a suitable site as it’s out of the way.

“It would probably over-burden the services like medical centres and schools and there would be an awful amount of traffic.”

The paper contacted the MOD for a comment but no one was available at the time.